92 more Post Offices close – mainly by irate landlords

Issued by Dianne Kohler Barnard MP – DA Shadow Minister of Communications
01 Mar 2023 in News

Note to editors: Please find attached soundbite by Dianne Kohler Barnard MP.

It has just been revealed in a Portfolio Committee meeting that the South African Post Office (SAPO) has quietly closed another 92 post offices. 50 of them were closed by irate, unpaid landlords.

This is a huge disappointment to the Democratic Alliance and to the thousands of residents who will lose what is frequently the only access point for their grants or savings.

Equally for the SAPO staff, this is a further blow which follows news of a proposed 40% salary deduction and 6,000 job cuts. As the SAPO completed a final death spiral, the Government last week tossed some air under its wings in the form of a R2.6 billion bailout – which may slightly dent the debts of R5.4 billion.

The DA is on record decrying the snatching of yet more out of the taxpayer pocket and dishing it out to this bankrupt entity.  In exchange for the massive annual bailouts, one would have expected mail to arrive on time, parcels to be delivered, services to be provided – such as motor licenses.  Instead, this is what was detailed:

  • The SAPO is locked out of 105 of its Post Offices because they haven’t paid their bills;
  • the electricity has been cut at 22 Post Offices,
  • the SAPO is in court over 341 cases of non payment and there are 103 Post Offices being threatened with being locked out, or having their electricity cut, or both.
  • The SAPO is in arrears to landlords to the tune of R338 200 000…and 571 Post Offices face the chop.
  • Already 50 Post Offices have been forcefully closed by irate landlords, and 42 closed during a so-called ‘optimisation’ exercise by the SAPO.

In October of last year, Johan Kruger, the head of communications for the SAPO, stated that 1200 post offices were functioning. However, the current number is down to a shocking 1122, providing insight into the entity’s significant deterioration.

The closure of post offices has the knock-on effect of denying access to critical services,  particularly for vulnerable rural communities who rely on post offices as their primary means of obtaining their grants.

The DA calls on the government to prioritise the needs of the most vulnerable and ensure that essential services remain accessible to all.

However, the government’s response to one of our parliamentary questions suggests a lack of concern for SASSA  beneficiaries, as they are directed to the “closest” post office.

The fact is that a taxi trip to the “closest” post office could cost a large portion of the grant the individual needs to collect.

The DA pledges to hold the SAPO accountable for its management of public funds and to prevent further erosion of essential services due to post office closures.

The government must engage with stakeholders to find viable solutions that address the financial sustainability of the SAPO without compromising the delivery of critical services.

The DA opposes the bailouts awarded to SAPO, which do not improve services but instead, perpetuate the cycle of financial instability.